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Subject: AIC flood efforts

AIC flood efforts

From: Karen Motylewski <nedcc>
Date: Wednesday, July 21, 1993
AIC (American Institute for Conservation) is planning to distribute
basic information to institutions in the mid-west that may have
experienced flood damage.  They are teaming with NIC to assemble a
mailing list, and are already faxing the following information, with a
list of vendors of emergency services and supplies, to state and
regional museum associations.  I haven't included that because AIC is
not on Net and I'd have to rekey it.  I don't know the authorship, but
Jane Hutchins, Barbara Roberts, and Debbie Norris have been
collaborating to try to organize regional response capabilities.  I
modified the draft slightly.

The intention is to provide people who may have to respond to a crisis
with simple, short, basic instructions for drying a variety of materials
that characterize museum collections.  It is *not* to provide
comprehensive recommendations, and it recognizes that there are many
variables in both collections and disaster situations.  There may be
considerable controversy about this philosophy, and about the specific
recommendations, but the fact remains that as a community, we have never
compiled generally applicable guidelines for non-professionals faced
with salvaging their collections (with the notable exception of Betty
Walsh's wonderful summary in WAAC, which I have distributed routinely
(with permission from WAAC).

I offer this material for use and comment, and volunteer to coordinate a
consensual document for future distribution (assuming we can arrive at
some sort of consensus).  I *don't* volunteer to take a lot of flack.
Refer that to AIC (202-452-9545).  Please keep in mind that
non-professionals don't always have access to a conservator, don't
always have working phone lines, and are not going to sit by and wait
until they can be sure they've got the perfect solution when faced with
sodden collections.  *Nor should they.* What we should try to agree on
is what categories of collections to include, what constitutes
responsible generic advice, and what seems like the language least
likely to be misinterpreted.  Basic instructions should be short and
sweet, and should project the most likely circumstances.  A lot of
education is still to be done on emergency preparedness, and most
institutions won't have a plan in place.

Remember that NEDCC's handouts (written for non-conservators) include
instructions for drying books and paper, drying photos in an emergency,
and dealing with mold in a disaster; in addition we distribute some
basic emergency preparedness guidelines and a list of (mostly national)
emergency service vendors.  These are normally available at no charge
for up to three titles; for more than three, we ask you to reimburse us
for postage and copying.  In an emergency, we can probably provide some
leaflets online, but formatting tends to be complicated and our systems
are very slow (hence $$$ for phone).  We'd rather fax them, but do not
limit photocopying.

*AIC Emergency Instructions*

Memo from AIC/Debbie Hess Norris reads:

Attached please find disaster response and recovery information: a
checklist detailing recommendations for initial response and lists of
suppliers and services.  The AIC hopes that this information will be of
assistance to institutions threatened by flooding.

Further information on health and safety issues, salvage recommendations
and procedures, conservation referral services, and federal emergency
aid are being gathered and prepared.  We hope to work cooperatively with
the National Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Property NIC)
too coordinate the distribution of these materials as soon as possible.
We urge you to share this information with your membership.  Please
identify where it might be most appropriate and useful.  if necessary,
the AIC referral system is available (202) 452-9545; FAX (2302)
452-9328, to help in locating a professional conservator to assist in
response and recovery operations.


    If You're First...

    The following suggestions may help you respond to an emergency
    affecting cultural property.  While an effort has been made to list
    them in the order in which they can be addressed, you'll need to
    adapt them to your circumstances.  Read them through and take the
    time to plan.  It's tempting to "get right to work", but initial
    organization will save you work and perhaps additional loss.  For
    advice, call you local conservator or call AIC's referral service
    (202-452-9545).  Above all, remember that safety comes first: don't
    endanger yourself or your staff on behalf of objects.

    *   Try to control or eliminate the problem at its source.

    *   Turn off the electricity and gas.

    *   Inform the Director.

    *   Inform proper civil authorities.

    *   Find the person in charge of the building (who may or may not be
        a museum staff person).  Assessment will begin after building is
        declared safe for re-entry.

    *   Consult your emergency plan.

    *   Take time to coordinate and plan activities--officials may
        prevent entry for several days.


        Human safety

        Critical operations: equipment, records, forms, information
        needed to manage salvage and reopen institution.

        Collections records:  shelf lists, inventory, registrar's logs,

        Stabilized building

        Collections, from most important (valuable; heavily used;
        significant; vulnerable to irreparable damage) to least


    *   emergency coordinator

    *   liaison with the press (one person)

    *   liaison with civil authorities

    *   individual with financial authority

    *   volunteer coordinator

    *   journal keeper and photographer to keep detailed records of
        damage and recovery activities

    *   individual who can authorize object movement and treatment.

    Secure the site perimeter.

    Establish a communications network.

    Inform your insurance company:

    *   document all stages of response photographically and with a
        written journal

    *   accompany the insurance adjuster and all investigating persons
        and contractors, taking extensive notes of conversations.  Such
        records may be required in court.

    Ensure that staff and volunteers have current shots (such as

    Protect objects by covering, lifting, or evacuating if staff is
    available and capable.

    Diminish mold growth by reducing the temperature and humidity and by
    promoting air circulation.

    Identify temporary storage.

    Set up work areas for items that need to be packed or air dried.

    Locate cold storage or freezing facilities.

    Obtain containers and supports for moving and handling
    objects--plastic crates, polyethylene sheeting, plywood, saw horses,
    rubber gloves, dollies, carts.

    Handle objects only with rubber gloves -- they may pose a health

    If time and conditions permit, record objects and destination with
    film, video, or pencil and paper.

    Label object containers.

    Contact a local conservator, or seek one through the AIC Referral
    System (202) 452-9545.


    Turn off electricity, blocking entry until done.  The power company
    may have to do this.

    Switch off, divert, or sandbag the water source.

    Clear drains as soon as possible.

    Cover places where water is entering.

    Locate pump and fans, and use only if you know the circuitry is dry.

    Plan mud removal, remembering that it may be contaminated.

    Raise objects out of water.

    Cover objects.  Check every 24 hours, uncovering if there is a
    threat of mold.

    Secure floating objects.

    Move collections up if water is rising.

    LOCATE SUPPLIES:  Containers, uninked newsprint, clean sheeting,
    blotter paper, toweling, flashlights, batteries, fans, extension
    cords, work lights, ladders, padding materials, mops, buckets,
    sponges, hand tools, plastic bags, boots, aprons, tags and labels,
    scissors, pencils and paper, clipboards, filament tape, waterproof
    markers, rubber gloves, and a source of clean water.

    Contact a commercial dehumidification firm if your building is
    large, if it is a historic structure, or if a great deal of water
    has been absorbed.

    Schedule staff and volunteers for work, breaks, and food.



        Don't hang wet objects without a conservator's advice.

        AIR DRY means find a cool, dry, space with fans.  Use absorbent
        material (uninked newsprint, blotters, paper towels) under
        objects.  Replace absorbent material as it becomes wet.

        For wet books, documents, photographs, textiles:  If these
        cannot be air dried within about 48 hours, freeze.  If freezer
        is unavailable, keep as cool as possible until air drying is
        possible.  Expect mold growth.

    FRAMED ARTWORKS:  Unframe paintings in a safe place.  Keep wet
    paintings horizontal and paint-side up.  FOR ART ON PAPER OR PHOTOS:
    If image appears stuck to glass/glazing, leave in frame and dry
    glass-side down.

    PHOTOGRAPHS:  Rinse mud off photographs (using gentle water stream
    or by immersion and gentle agitation).  Thoroughly wet photographs
    can stay wet in a container of clean water.  Dry or freeze within 48
    hours.  Freeze or air dry damp or partially wet photographs.

    BOOKS IN QUANTITY:  Remove 2 or 3 books from each wet or partly wet
    shelf (to relieve pressure).  Evacuate completely or partly wet
    books.  Pack snugly, spine down, and freeze.  Leave damp books on
    shelves if space can be made cool and dry.  Contact a commercial
    dehumidification firm if space has been flooded.

    INDIVIDUAL BOOKS:  Air dry--stand upright and open covers gently to
    support book.

    DOCUMENTS/PAMPHLETS:  Remove plastic covers.  Air dry flat, in piles
    no thicker than 1/8" within 48 hours; or pack snugly, upright in
    original folders (if no folders, pack flat) and freeze.

    TEXTILES:  Bag wet textiles in plastic.  Dip half-saturated textiles
    in clean water, bag, and freeze.  Place in a cool area if freezer
    not available.

    FURNITURE:  Lift furniture above water level.  Dab dry with clean
    cloths.  If mud-covered, rinse immediately with clean water.  Wrap
    with plastic and dry slowly, under weights if possible.  Leave
    drawers in place but remove contents.

    BASKETS:  Pad with uninked newsprint, replace lids, dry slowly.

    LEATHER:  Shape and air dry.

    BONE/IVORY:  Dab to absorb excess water, place under loose sheets of
    polyethylene to slow drying.

    METAL:  Dry metal as quickly as possible, using fans and/or sun.

    ANIMAL MATERIALS:  Air dry unstuffed specimens and skeletal material
    on racks in moving air: do not squeeze.


Karen Motylewski
Northeast Document Conservation Center

                  Conservation DistList Instance 7:14
                  Distributed: Thursday, July 22, 1993
                        Message Id: cdl-7-14-001
Received on Wednesday, 21 July, 1993

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